Luxury tour operator Scott Dunn shares his tips for the hottest incentive destinations of 2018.
Read on for a hotel and resort opening update for the most sought after locations on the planet.
Hot destination Cambodia offers more reasons to visit in 2018 with the exciting new openings of Shinta Mani Wild (new luxury tented camp, complete with zip line), Six Senses Koh Russey, Alila Villas Koh Russey, The Beige in Siem Reap, Rosewood Phnom Penh and Rosewood Siem Reap.
Due to open in early 2018, the Six Senses Bhutan circuit is one of Asia’s most anticipated openings. Located in Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtey and Bumthang, guests will be able to embark on a ‘Six Senses Journey’ between each lodge, exploring Bhutan in style.
Each of the Six Senses lodge locations will have jaw-dropping views, in particular the lodge in Punakha which overlooks the Mo Chu River, and Gangtey, which has views of the Phobjika Valley. Architecturally, Six Senses have blended local design styles with modern luxuries and all lodges are inspired by the colourful Kingdom’s reputation as the ‘happiest place on earth.’
Iceland is a destination that continues to see a huge surge in popularity with more exciting luxury accommodation options opening as a result. The country’s most popular tourist attraction, The Blue Lagoon, is set to open ‘The Retreat at Blue Lagoon’ and become a new guest favourite with 62 rooms offering exclusive access to the manmade geo-thermal pool. Iceland’s phenomenal landscapes tempt visitors out into the wild to experience an array of outdoor activities, from a puffin safari to heli-skiing from summit to ocean on the Troll Peninsula at luxury Nordic retreat Deplar Farm. Trollaskagi Camp, a new pop-up glamping camp, will open from March to May 2018 overlooking Eyjaörður from Amazing Escapes. With six luxury guests domes with double beds and wood stoves, guests will be able to watch the Northern Lights from their bed and relax after a day outdoors in a Scandanvian hot-tub or the fully-stocked library dome.
While Nepal isn’t at the forefront of new openings for the forthcoming year, Dunn says this destination coming back, after healing its wounds post the 2015 earthquakes. While people have still visited Nepal over the past couple of years, the numbers have been low but Dunn says enquiries have gone up 50 per cent in the last quarter. This has been helped by Meghauli Serai opening in Chitwan last year. Nepal also matches up well with Bhutan, and Dunn has seen a lot of demand for guests wanting to combine both destinations over a longer period of time.
Going through its soft launch at the moment, the unique Bawah Island is located in the Anambas Islands of Indonesia. Accessible from Singapore by ferry and seaplane, Bawah is a group of six tropical islands that feature 35 beautifully designed suites and bungalows. Surrounded by lagoons and coral reefs, as well as dense jungle canopy and mangroves, this eco-hideaway is an explorers dream. Think Nihiwatu meets Song Saa or Soneva Kiri. Dunn believes that this will be one of the hottest holiday destinations for 2018 as it offers a brand new private island experience for those looking for something a bit more unique than Thailand or Bali.
Similar to Nepal, Dunn sees Jordan as an emerging destination for 2018. Jordan is well-known for its highlights such as the world-famous Nabatean city of Petra, the Roman ruins of Jerash in the north, the epic desert landscapes of Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea – the lowest point on earth and the best place for a float. Offering a polar opposite experience to that in Asia, guests can also combine a trip to Jordan with Oman to really explore the wonders of Arabia.
While there isn’t anything new to report for New Zealand, it continues to be a popular destination for travellers from the southern hemisphere. For 2018, Dunn will be promoting New Zealand as somewhere to go for a digital detox, without having to forfeit on luxury, thanks to the country’s collection of luxury lodges.
Oman is a country that seemed to escape the notice of all but the most intrepid of travellers until just a few years ago. It now welcomes visitors with renowned Arabian hospitality and is eager to share its lively culture, rolling sand dunes, bustling souks and majestic mountains. Dunn is especially excited about the lesser known region of Salalah in the south where the Anantara Al Baleed Resort sits on an untouched stretch of white coastline.
In Oman, there are two exceptional glamping options to satisfy guests’ desire to sleep under the stars in luxury. Canvas Club is the most glamorous camping option in Oman, whilst Hud Hud’s authentic Bedouin style tents continues to be a firm favourite. Oman can also be paired with Nepal or Jordan for the ultimate adventure itinerary.
Home to some of the world’s best conditions, Niseko boasts pristine deep dry snow on picturesque volcanic and alpine mountain ranges. New for the for 2017/18 ski season is the Niseko- Hirafu’s high-speed detachable quad chair lift, which will more than double lift capacity saving long waits at peak times.
Courchevel has long been the ski-resort of choice for the European ‘it’ crowd, but with new openings like the Six Senses Residences Courchevel, the resort will be firmly planted on the map as the go-to ski destination for Asia and Australia-based travellers.